In the final cross-country race of their high school careers, the two Half Moon Bay High School seniors led the way for the Cougars.
In the team’s first 5,000-meter race this season, among a field of more than 200 runners, senior star Claire Yerby finished 28th overall in 18 minutes, 49 seconds at the 2019 CIF Division IV State Cross-Country Championships on Saturday in Fresno. Teammate Kendall Mansukhani finished 55th in 19:21.9. Half Moon Bay ended a stellar season by placing 16th out of 25 teams, with 420 points. Sage Creek took the team title with 44 points, while Menlo School came in second with 121 points.
Both seniors improved from their previous state race in 2018. Yerby placed higher last year, 21st overall, but ran 10 seconds slower. Mansukhani, who fell in 2018, demolished her previous placement, going from 107th to 55th, a
50-second improvement. Jayda Bodas was 130th in 21:00. Olivia Perez was 150th in 21:27, Natalie Curthoys was 171st in 21:50.2, Anna Bikle was 180th in 22:07.5 and Layne Faust was 189th in 22:34.7.
“That was probably the best way I could have ended my high school career,” Yerby said. “Our team did well, I had a good (personal record), and I really like that course. It was a good way for me to go out.”
Qualifying for the state meet is a team effort, and without the superb work from the middle-of-the-pack runners the team wouldn’t have been racing in Fresno over the weekend.
“Natalie is so much faster, stronger, more competitive this year than she was last year,” Farnsworth pointed out. “And Layne, even though she was our seventh runner (on Saturday), she has scored for us and was 2 ½ minutes faster than last year.”
Yerby and Mansukhani both dealt with injury throughout the season. Mansukhani was consistently gaining fitness throughout the year after sustaining an injury on the track in the spring, and Yerby took nearly a month off dealing with shin splints. The Cougars had eight athletes on the roster, a far cry from some of Farnsworth’s numbers in the past, and they showed tremendous grit to make it to the state meet. The smaller team was close.
“I’ve very proud of this entire team,” Farnsworth said. “It’s an incredibly close-knit group of girls, and their bond is tight.”